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Last update: April 24, 2023

11 Best Fire Eel Tank mates – FishLab

Native to lakes and to muddy rivers in southeast Asia, the Fire Eel is a peaceful, bottom-dwelling fish that you’ll never tire of watching each day. It’s also not technically an eel, despite the elongated body and distinctive snout, as it has spines in its fins.

Choosing a tank mate for these graceful creatures requires a little care, as it will eat fish that are too small, so you need bigger tank mates – just ones that won’t eat the eel, of course.

Those tank mates will need to do well in the same type of environment as your Fire Eel, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Today we’ll share some basics about Fire Eel itself and a list of the best tank mates for ensuring a balanced aquatic environment.

Fire Eel tank mates – What You Need To Know

Let’s look at the most important basics that you need to know when it comes to housing a Fire Eel with other tank mates.

Temperament

Fire Eels have timid temperaments, provided that they are with fish that are larger than themselves, otherwise they will eat them. They are also nocturnal, spending the majority of the day hiding in the substrate, with just their cute little snouts and eyes poking out from time to time.

Make sure that they have a spacious tank – by the time they are adults, they need  a gallon-minimum, and there should be plenty of places to hide. PVC pipe, hollowed rocks, and driftwood are good additions to the tank to help to ensure this. 

Size

While they can grow up to 40 inches in their native environment, in captivity Fire eels will grow no more than 20 inches. You’ll want to select their tankmates with their current size and growth factors in mind.

The easiest way is just to pick one from the list that is already a little taller in size than the eel so that they can grow together.

Competition

Fire eels are very peaceful and they spend their time hiding during the day, so they won’t be competing with the other fish for food, but you’ll want to schedule feedings with this in mind. Just don’t house them with another Fire eel, as this is the one exception for aggressive behavior.

As they eat invertebrates, detritus, and plant matter, food should still be available but an evening feeding right after ‘lights out’ might be a good idea. 

Parameters ; Tank Setup

Fire eels should have a 77 gallon tank and a sandy bottom substrate is ideal, so that they can easily hide. Floating plants are also ideal, but avoid the rooted variety – your burrowing Fire eel will dislodge them or they will simply make it difficult for them to hide.

They also thrive with a temperature range of 75 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a Ph of 6.5-7.5. Water hardness should be 6-12 GH. 

11 Best Fire Eel Tank mates

After thorough research, we’ve compiled the 12 best tank mates for your Fire eel that will be the ideal aquatic roommates!

1. Angelfish – Pterophyllum scalare

2. Barb Fish – Barbus Barbus

3. Bichir Fish – Polypteridae

4. Blue Dolphin Cichlid – Cyrtocara Moori

5. Clown Loaches – Chromobotia macracanthus 

6. Green Terror – Andinoacara Rivulatus

7. Oscar Fish – Astronotus Ocellatus

8. Silver Arowana – Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum

9. Red-Bellied Pacu – Piaractus brachypomus    

10. Common Pleco  – Hypostomus plecostomus

11. Redhook Silver Dollar – Myleus rubripinnis

In the sections below we’re going to tell you about each of these potential tank mates, along with the information that you need to decide which ones you feel will be the best fit for your particular tank.

Also see:

1. Angelfish

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  • Scientific Name:  Pterophyllum scalare
  • Adult Size:  6 inches in length, 8 inches in height
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  South America

The mild-mannered Angelfish makes for a perfect tank mate for the Fire eel. Due to their size, the eel should leave the fish alone, and they don’t require a very large tank space at all. It is best, however, to get more than one Angelfish, as they can be a little more aggressive when they are kept alone.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Timid and well-suited as a tankmate for the Fire eel.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Should be kept in schools, rather than as a solo fish.

2. Barb Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Barbus Barbus
  • Adult Size:  3 inches up to 13 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  Europe, Africa, and Asia

Barb fish are playful and aggressive enough that your Fire eel will generally leave them alone. As they come in many varieties, you can pick and choose as you like, but you’ll want to go with a large Barb to help ensure that your Fire eel doesn’t start considering them as a snack.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Colorful and just aggressive enough to avoid consumption.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Don’t keep too many of them or they might get tempted by the eel!

3. Bichir Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Polypteridae
  • Adult Size:  12 to 30 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  Western and Central Africa

The docile Bichir fish is a good companion fish for your Fire eel, as they are nocturnal as well! You will want to choose your Bichir carefully, however, as some may get as big as 30 inches.

With the larger Bichir fish, this means that you’ll want a tank of 100 to 150 gallons if you decide to add them as a tank mate.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Adding both nocturnal and diurnal fish means that your tank is always interesting whether it’s day or night.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • These larger fish need a little more space.

4. Blue Dolphin Cichlid

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  • Scientific Name: Cyrtocara Moori
  • Adult Size:  up to 10 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  Africa

Blue Dolphin Cichlids are beautiful, although they are a little on the aggressive side. If you are housing all bigger fish or other Lake Malawi cichlids with your Fire Eel, then this should be a good match. Just be sure that you don’t keep them with very small fish, otherwise the Blue Dolphin will likely make a snack of them!

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Quite lovely and aggressive enough to avoid consumption by the Fire eel

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Cannot be kept with smaller fish

5. Clown Loaches

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  • Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus  
  • Adult Size:  7.9 – 11. 8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin: Indonesia

Clown loaches, true to their name, are both colorful and playful. With their orange coloration and lovely black stripes, they’ll already get your attention, but watching them at play is also a treat. If you’re lucky, you’ll sometimes even catch them swimming upside-down!

You’ll want to keep them in groups of 5, however, as they are more aggressive in smaller groups than this or when kept alone.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Vibrantly colored and fun to watch.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • A school of at least 5 is ideal.

6. Green Terror

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  • Scientific Name:  Andinoacara Rivulatus
  • Adult Size:  6-12 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  South America

Green Terrors have quite the exotic look, with their bumpy foreheads and dashes of color to go with their exquisite spotted scales. You’ll want to be sure that you house them in a large enough tank, however, with 75 gallons being the recommended minimum to avoid them becoming overly aggressive.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Their exotic appearance goes well with the Fire eel and they should give each other space.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Larger tanks are better to ensure that Green Terrors do not get competitive.

7. Oscar Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Astronotus Ocellatus
  • Adult Size:  10 to 14 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Medium
  • Origin:  South America and French Guiana

While they take a little more care than the tank mates we’ve previously listed, the Oscar fish is well worth it as a tank mate. Their amazing coloration and rough, almost-solid oval shape really add to the aesthetics of the tank.

As they require a minimum of 55 gallons to keep their aggression down, they should be a great fit for a Fire eel-sized tank and they will leave your eel alone. Avoid housing them with other Oscars, however, as this will likely lead to conflict.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Amazing coloration and large enough to avoid being consumed by your eel.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • They are territorial, so only one Oscar is going to be ideal.

8. Silver Arowana

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  • Scientific Name: Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum
  • Adult Size:  Up to 47 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  High
  • Origin:  Amazon, Guiana,, and Western Orinoco

If you like a challenge and have a larger-sized tank that is at least 250 gallons, then the Silver Arowana is a good tank mate for your Fire eel. Any tank of smaller size, however, is not going to cut it, as these fish are likely to jump if housed in anything smaller.

That said, if you are at expert care level and you love larger fish, then this might just be the perfect pick for your Fire eel’s tank mate.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • These large Amazonian fish are quite the attention-getters and will leave your eel alone in a larger tank.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • These fish require expert care, including mimicking their natural environments as closely as possible. Not a fish for novices!

9. Red-Bellied Pacu

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  • Scientific Name: Piaractus brachypomus    
  • Adult Size:  12 – 30 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Medium
  • Origin:  South America

While related to piranha, the Red-Bellied Pacu is actually quite the easygoing fish, making it a great companion for housing with your Fire eel. Other Pacu are also a good fit, incidentally, and may be kept together, just be sure to keep them with larger fish as they will snack on significantly smaller tankmates!

A minimum tank size of 200 gallons is the only caveat, but it’s well worth it if you can accommodate Pacus.

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Beautiful, big, and docile, they make excellent Fire eel tank mates.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Relatively large tank requirements may not be a good fit for everyone.

10. Common Pleco

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  • Scientific Name: Hypostomus plecostomus    
  • Adult Size:  Up to 20 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  Costa Rica, Panama, and South America

Large, beautiful, and low maintenance, the Common Pleco looks anything but common. With large, flowing fins and their multitude of spots, these bottom dwelling fish make a great addition to any tank.

Their tank requirements are also quite close to the Eel’s already, with 75 to 80 gallons being ideal, and provided that you meet this they are quite calm and content to live with your Eel.

As a bonus, it will leave other tankmates alone, unless they die (at which point it will definitely eat them!).

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • Striking markings and will not eat any of its tankmates.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • They eat algae in your tank but they also produce a lot of waste, so you’ll need to keep this in mind.

11. Redhook Silver Dollar

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  • Scientific Name:  Myleus rubripinnis
  • Adult Size:  12 inches
  • Compatible with:  Fire eels
  • Care Level:  Easy
  • Origin:  South America

The Redhook Silver Dollar is easy to care for, provided that you have a large enough tank and at least 2 other Redhooks to keep it company – they are definitely schoolers, so this is important. In turn, your eel will leave the school alone so that their smaller size will not be a problem.

As far as the tank size, 75 gallons is already sufficient to host a school of 3, so if you have about a 100 gallon tank for your Fire eel and the other tank mates then this is just about a perfect fit!

Pros of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • These fish swim at medium and upper levels and of sufficient size that your eel will leave these schooling fish alone.

Cons of keeping with a Fire Eel

  • These fish do love nibbling on plants, so you’ll need to consider their diets carefully to help reduce the temptation.

In Conclusion

Now that you know the 11 best Fire eel tank mates, you should be well-prepared to set up a tank with truly stunning aesthetics. Just remember that with Fire Eels you’ll want to provide plenty of hiding spots and be sure not to include any tiny tankmates. The fish we’ve talked about today are all of sufficient size to live with your eel, but anything smaller might well become a snack!

Provided that you take advantage of this list when choosing tank mates, everyone should get along well in the carefully-cultivated aquatic environments which you’ve provided!

Ian Sterling

I've been keeping fish for over 30 years and currently have 4 different aquariums – it's an addiction. I'm here to teach you everything there is to know about fishkeeping.

I also use this site as an excuse to spend lots of money on testing and reviewing different aquarium products! You can find my reviews here.

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